Writing Tips .........................................9 July 1999
One of the things I like most about the Internet, is that it's shown me that it doesn't matter where we come from, the majority of us are friendly, generous and helpful.
From my first tentative steps into this unbelievable techno-world, I've been amazed by this ever-present willingness of complete strangers to help - regardless of the simplicity or complexity of my problems. My family groan every time I start a sentence with, "I met this terrific person today ...." because they know I'm going to launch into yet another long story about my travels around the globe. For them, it's a bit like slide nights of someone else's holiday, but without even the distraction of the slides!
Never before have we been able to contact so many people from so many places, so easily.
It never ceases to astound me that I can sit at my desk here in Queensland, on a lovely 20 C winter's day, and be reading a message from a friend in North America who is caught in the sauna of summer.
How fortunate are we - to be alive at this particular time in history?
It doesn't matter what you want to find out or do, you're sure to be able to find someone, somewhere to help - usually for free or for a small charge.
When I started to send out my Writing Tips, I was struck by another feature of the internet - that until then, I had never really considered. When we meet people face to face, we're able to take a rough guess at their origins - from their accent and so on - but when we're communicating through the written word, it's more difficult to detect regional differences. And that means that we run the risk of losing all that wonderful variety that makes us so interesting as a species!
We don't collectively spend billions of dollars each year on travel because we want to meet people who are exactly the same as ourselves, we do it because we want to learn about different cultures, and we want to experience other ways of living.
What made me think about this was the number of people who interpreted my Australian expressions and spelling, as errors. I was amazed, yet again, by the people who took the time to gently point out I might like to have a quick look at some word or other that I'd apparently "overlooked" in my proof reading. It was, without exception, done in the spirit of wanting to help.
I considered changing all my future work to make it fit into these new patterns - but then realised that if I did, I would be contributing to the "greying" of the world!
It's a bit like children's paintings - little tots start out with their beautiful bright colours - green, red, blue, yellow - but after a while, all they have is dark browny-grey!
Who wants to live in a grey world?
Let's celebrate our small differences while we still have them. I'll continue to colour my little part of the world with my favourite way of spelling and hope that you realise I'm doing it because I'm from Australia - and not because I can't spell!
~ *** ~
How many extra words did you manage to find from the Latin and Greek last week?
Well done! It just shows how many of our words have been borrowed from these ancient languages. (If you missed last week's Tip - or any others - remember, you can find them all on the Archives page )
Here are the answers to the previous quiz: who or what lives in each of these:
1. manse - MINISTER
2. rectory - RECTOR
3. convent - NUN
4. monastery - MONK
5. coop - CHOOKS (HENS)
6. lodge - BEAVER
7. holt - OTTER
8. lair - WOLF (or other wild animal)
9. eyrie - EAGLE
10.asylum - (No, not us at the end of a lo-o-o-ng week ...) MENTAL PATIENT
NB Some of these words have become interchangeable e.g. a minister can live in MANSE or a RECTORY - depending on his denomination.
OXYMORON OF THE WEEK: tight slacks (and don't we see plenty of them during the holidays??)
A couple of VERY useful Latin phrases this week. These are Latin names for nonexistent illnesses and diseases - I'm sure you'll find an opportunity to use at least one, sometime soon.
Inopia celeritatis (a mild condition that makes it impossible for you to arrive on time)
Impedimentum memoriae (a mental block that makes it hard for you to remember peoples' names)
And for those of you in throes of the Northern Hemisphere Holiday Season:
Taedium pellucidorum (an eye condition that keeps you from looking at slides of other peoples' holidays)
Just to finish off and apropos nothing in particular, these gems from some sports "stars":
"I owe a lot to my parents; especially my mother and father." (Greg Norman)
"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body." (Winston Bennett)
"I can see the carrot at the end of the tunnel." (Stuart Pearce)
Now that's a hard act to follow!